Hungary fans clash with police during World Cup qualifier against England at Wembley

By Lawrence Ostlere
Reuters

Police fought with Hungary fans in ugly scenes at Wembley during a World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday evening as they attempted to arrest a spectator for racially abusing a stadium steward.

A cluster of visiting supporters mostly wearing black T-shirts clashed and forced back stewards and police at a gangway entrance in the lower tier. Police could be seen wielding batons during the skirmish.

The incident occurred during the first 10 minutes of the match, although it soon calmed down. It came after Hungary fans booed the England players for taking the knee ahead of kick-off, with some holding up an anti-kneeling banner.

In a statement released at half-time, the Metropolitan Police said: “Shortly after the start of tonight’s match at Wembley, officers entered the stand to arrest a spectator for a racially aggravated public order offence following comments made towards a steward.

“As the officers made the arrest, minor disorder broke out involving other spectators. Order was quickly restored and there have been no further incidents at this stage.”

The English Football Association said it would investigate. “We are aware of an incident in the away section during tonight’s Fifa 2022 World Cup Qualifier at Wembley Stadium. We will be investigating and will report the incident to Fifa.”

Conservative Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden described the clashes between fans and police as “deeply disturbing”.

The former culture, media and sport secretary told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “These are deeply disturbing images and I know that the FA will be investigating this fully and engaging with Fifa as well.

“There’s clearly still an underlying problem with racism in football.”

Hungary fans clash with police during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between England and Hungary at Wembley Stadium (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Mr Dowden said “action needs to be taken” against Hungary “if there have been failings here”.

Asked if the lack of racist abuse from England fans during the team’s Wembley face-off against Hungary suggested progress was being made, he said: “Yes, I would think so.”

He added: “I’ve spoken to many black football players who’ve suffered this abuse and I completely appreciate why they’re taking the knee - they want to take a stand against this racism.

“I think the overwhelming majority of England fans share their absolute repugnance at this racist abuse.”

The fracas follows other instances of racist abuse by Hungary fans towards England players during the reverse fixture in Budapest in September.

Hungary were ordered to play two home Fifa competition matches behind closed doors, one suspended for two years, after Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were targeted with monkey chants during the match, which England won 4-0.

The scenes are another blow to the FA only three months after a disastrous Euro 2020 final, where ticketless fans stormed the stadium amid chaos and violence, raising doubts about England’s fitness to host the 2030 World Cup.


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